Thomas Hale Boggs Sr. (February 15, 1914–October 16, 1972) was a member of the United States House of Representatives for Louisiana. In 1972, he was the House Majority Leader, when he disappeared aboard a twin engine plane in a remote region of Alaska. Congressman Nick Begich was killed in the same crash.
Born in Long Beach, Mississippi, Boggs was educated at Tulane University where he received bachelor's in journalism in 1934 and a law degree in 1937. He first practiced law in New Orleans, but soon became a leader in the movement to break Huey Long's political power in the area. A Democrat, Boggs was elected to the House for the second district and served from 1941 to 1943. At the time he was elected he was, at age 26, the youngest member of Congress. After an unsuccessful re-election bid in 1942, Boggs joined the Navy as an ensign, serving out the rest of World War II.
After the war, he began his political comeback. He was again elected to Congress in 1946 and was then re-elected 13 times, once just after he disappeared, but before he was presumed dead. He ran an unsuccessful race for the governorship of Louisiana in 1952.
During his tenure in Congress, Boggs was an influential player in the government. After Brown vs Board of Education he signed The Southern Manifesto condemning desegregation. He was instrumental in passage of the interstate highway program in 1956, and was a member of the Warren Commission in 1963–4. He served as Majority Whip from 1961 to 1970 and as majority leader (from January 1971). As majority whip, he ushered much of President Johnson's Great Society legislation through Congress.
His influence also led to charges of corruption. Controversy surrounded him, when a contractor who remodeled his home in Bethesda, Maryland at a reduced cost sought his help for obtaining a $5 million extra payment for building a garage adjacent to the United States Capitol building.
As Majority Leader he campaigned tirelessly for others. He was aboard a twin engine Cessna 310 with Representative Nick Begich when it disappeared during a flight from Anchorage to Juneau, Alaska. Two others were aboard, Begich's aide and the pilot. The four were heading for a campaign fund raiser for Begich. In the largest search ever mounted by the US military, Coast Guard, Navy, and Air Force planes searched for him. The search was abandoned after 39 days, no remains were ever found. Both he and Begich were re-elected that November. House Resolution 1 of January 3, 1973 officially recognized Boggs' presumed death and opened the way for a special election. In 1973 Boggs' wife since 1938, Lindy, was elected to the second district seat left vacant by his death, where she served until 1991.
The events surrounding Boggs' death have been the subject of numerous conspiracy theories. These theories often center around his involvement with the Warren Commission, but some tie his death to alleged corruption charges or his outspoken opposition to powerful FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. Some, including Boggs' own son Thomas, have suggested that Richard Nixon had a hand in Boggs' death in order to thwart the Watergate investigation. None of these theories has ever been proven.
Hale and Lindy Boggs had three children: journalist Cokie Roberts, Thomas Boggs, a prominent attorney and lobbyist whose clients include Qorvis Communications of Saudi Arabia, and Barbara Boggs Sigmund.
- "I wish I could stand here as a man who loves his state, born and reared in the South, who has spent every year of his life in Louisiana since he was 5 years old, and say there has not been discrimination. But, unfortunately, it is not so."